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Thursday, January 22, 2015

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Review: Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi (Who R U Really's Bright Side)

Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi

Gamer Girl
Mari Mancusi
Publication Date: November 13, 2008
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Reviewer: Sophia

What do you do if your ho-hum real life doesn't live up to your amazing virtual reality?

Maddy's life couldn't get much worse. Her parents split and now she's stuck in a small town and at a new school. Most of the time, she retreats into her manga art, but when she gets into the Fields of Fantasy online computer game, she knows she's found the one place she can be herself.

​In the game world, Maddy can be the beautiful and magical Allora and have a virtually perfect life. And she even finds a little romance. But can Maddy escape her real-life problems altogether, or will she have to find a way to make her real world just as amazing as her virtual one?

I was in the process of getting another book entirely at the library when I noticed Mari Mancusi's Gamer Girl peeking out from its hiding place between two other books. Being the occasional gamer myself (though currently I'm being a little too scholarly to even focus on gaming), I could definitely relate to the title (not so much the synopsis).

There's much to love about Gamer Girl: the synopsis made the book sound like a very happy book – something that I've been on the hunt for awhile. The cover is simplistic and gorgeous – it definitely puts down the entire idea of the book with the drawing of the main character, Maddy, and the avatar she uses in a game (Fields of Fantasy) she gets for her birthday shortly after her parents divorce. The interior is just as gorgeous as the cover – the chapter headings depict Maddy's main emotions she's feeling by the end of the chapter.

Mancusi's writing style and use of Maddy's voice is great as well – Maddy is a very relatable character and she has an attitude that isn't annoying, making the book feel perfectly paced as Maddy gets to know SirLeo in Fields of Fantasy and falls in love with him. For awhile it probably feels as though Maddy will find out SirLeo is really an online predator.

Much as I really loved Gamer Girl and Mancusi's writing style, the book feels as though it's aimed more toward middle grade than a high schooler my age. The book is stereotypical with Maddy being bullied by the "Royal Court" as soon as she starts a new school and Maddy tries to escape from the troubles of her reality by entering the gaming world and playing Fields of Fantasy with an elfin character named Allora, someone she would rather be. It all leads to a very cute and adorable ending with the popular guy falling for the outcast – very happy and light-hearted, and certainly not something you're likely to come across in real life, compared to the realistic drama of Margo Kelly's Who R U Really.

5 Owls

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Sophia Waterheart

Sophia Waterheart is one of Sophia's main characters and is technically a retired wizard (she pops up here and there), even though she is still in the Twizard community. Contrary to what many people think, her character does not have green hair. She comes up with the occasional gaming post, but has ultimately decided her true passion lies in sharing her thoughts on things related to books. She may or may not consider finding a replacement.